Grand Union Orchestra Hackney Empire Undream'd Shores London November 2, 2014 A while ago, I started to suggest to Tony Haynes -Grand Union's artistic director -that he write an opera. I stopped mid-sentence, suddenly realising that he's been doing just that for years. Undream'd Shores is less an opera, more a song cycle but those familiar, recurring GUO themes of migration, exile, loss and ultimate transcendence were all present at this their most recent and elaborate show to date at East London's Hackney Empire. Not that the denizens of West End jazz ...read more
The Song of Many Tongues was the first album of the Grand Union Orchestra. Originally only available on cassette, this marks its first CD release and GUO's thirty-year-long history under the leadership of composer/director Tony Haynes. It's a testament to continuity and musical development but also to the commitment of its members to this unique vision. Of those present here, Claude Deppa, Chris Biscoe, Ros Davies, Andy Grappy, Carlos Fuentes, Gerry Hunt, Dave Adams and, of course, Haynes himself are still with the orchestra today. Anyone seeing GUO more recently will be aware how that original vision has ...read more
Grand Union OrchestraSpirits of Cable StreetWilton'sLondon, UKJune 7, 2013A tribute to music hall star Marie Lloyd set to a reggae beat? Could only be Grand Union Orchestra. Surprisingly, this is only the band's second visit to Wilton's, this historic East End venue that sits very close to the site of the battle of Cable Street. If you caught Stephen Poliakoff's 1930s jazz drama, Dancing on the Edge, on the BBC, then you may know that the theatre appeared in several scenes from the play. Somehow, it's the perfect setting for Grand Union's unique ...read more
In March, 2012, The Grand Union Orchestra, one of the jazz world's finest and most ambitious ensembles, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. Maybe you haven't heard of the band yet but if you have the chances are you'll revel in its kaleidoscopic blending of jazz and music from across the planet. Though based in the East End of London, it would be an outrageous misnomer to call it Britain's Grand Union Orchestra." After all, it draws its participants from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, China and the Far East, Australia, Turkey, Italy and Britain and its music from all these places. ...read more
Grand Union OrchestraIf ParadiseRed Gold2011 If Paradise, the biggest jewel in British composer, keyboardist and trombonist Tony Haynes' recording career to date, joins a handful of orchestral albums which have not so much crossed genre and cultural boundaries as rendered them meaningless. Off-piste singularities may exclude these discs from mainstream jazz history, but their exalted singularity make them artifacts to be treasured. Other high-carat items are pianist Joachim Kühn and arranger Michael Gibbs's Europeana (ACT, 1995) and pianist Randy Weston's Blue Moses (CTI, 1972). With If Paradise," a ...read more
Billed, irresistibly, as 'World Musicians United In A Journey Through Bhangra, Babylon & The Blues,' these two performances (on 23 & 24 October) by the 19-piece world-jazz Grand Union Orchestra promised much, and delivered it all - including the London premiere of the band's most recent major work, the impassioned raga-based suite If Paradise... , inspired by recent history in the Middle East.
The Back Story:
Little known outside British jazz circles, GUO was formed by the visionary composer and pianist Tony Haynes in 1982, long before the term world-jazz had been coined, as a vehicle for jazz-based, cross-cultural musical ...read more